Gardening Journal, June 20th 2013

Because of the lower temperatures, spring bulbs such as daffodils and tulips were slow in opening up. But they lasted much longer and this extended spring show made every gardener happy. When it rained, it rained long and hard. No gentle drizzles, but downpours which lasted for hours (days?) on end. Then we had a short dry spell as the temperatures climbed into the seventies.

For a while there I thought I was back in Holland. The rain, the grey skies; we had nothing but Dutch days. And considering it rains about 200 days each year in Holland, we were giving them a run for the money. In a 10 day period we received 8.9 inches of rain in our area, way more than normal. May blooms were delayed by days, if not weeks, and only now my clematis are blooming in earnest. But all this rain makes for a very lush garden with greenery exploding everywhere. The willows, who don't mind wet feet (and will grow at the edge of ponds, streams or rivers to get full access to water) have never looked better. The wet, soft soil has made weeding a snap as, not that there is lot of weeding to be done in my garden!

A truckload of mulch upended in our driveway made for one gigantic heap to be moved to all corners of the garden, one shovel-full at the time. It gave me quite a workout, but also reacquainted me with my playground after a long winter indoors. A slight "miscalculation" (don't mention this to the under gardener, The Spouse) in the amount of mulch needed allowed me... to cover up some grass. For years I wanted to cover up the grass on the side of the house, just like I did to the other side many years ago. I begged, cajoled, and yes, even threatened, all to no avail. But now there was his one remaining mound of mulch with no place to go... other than the side yeard. One morning, as The Spouse lay sleeping after a night's work, this patch of grass went to that big lawn in the sky. Now, all that remains of the lawn is lined by large, curved beds filled with trees, shrubs, bulbs and a mix of annual and perennial plants. It is just big enough to give me a 10 minute work-out with the manual lawn mower, and makes for a nice green frame to the beds.

Over the years I have added peonies to the garden. I always remember their glorious flowers when in bloom, but forget how they hang their heads when wet or how short their bloom time amounts to. This spring, with all the rains, they looked good for a few days and that was it. Finally I had enough. I dug up all of the plants which had become shaded and which were struggling. Then I uprooted most of the others as well. Only a few remain, in sunny spots, where they are glorious if only for a short period. A co-worker adopted a few plants for his sunny back yard. The rest are potted up for next year's plant swap at the garden club.

And so this gardener muddles on. I made lawn disappear and mulched the rest of the garden. I dug up peonies and made someone else happy. I think of work still to be done. The weatherman promised four days without rain. Our garden club will visit Rutgers' garden on the weekend and afterwards we will reconvene at one of our member's garden. And the sun will be shining as we slide into summer.